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Over paid workers, underpaying employers

Some businesses will in the long term pay a high price for some of these decisions. As they say; if you pay peanuts, do not be surprised when you get nutty workers. There is a TV station with a long-running advertising campaign selling houses in an upscale estate. But the advert misspells one critical word: bungalow. Really? Unfortunately we could be seeing more of these.

Highly paid workers are hired for the value they add to the business. Uganda radio hosts/DJs are not paid highly. I am told most earn less than Shs500,000. A few earn over Shs1 million. Only one or two earn over Shs3 million. Most take the job for the love of it. For others, it’s a convenient address in the gig world they live in as comedians and emcees.

But elsewhere in the world, there are radio hosts such as Howard Stern who earns US$100 million a year (Approx.Shs30 billion per month) or Ryan Seacrest; who Ugandans are familiar with from ‘American Idol,’ who earns about US$90 million a year.

Such people cannot be replaced by computers. They are profit centres for the business.  Howard Stern boasts a massive 30-year-plus video library. Some of them have their own digital apps with millions of subscribers.

Of course every employee gets the pay or pay cut they deserve. If you feel you deserve more and your current employer does not think so, move on and good luck.

In that sense Fat Boy was possibly an overpaid employee. According to figures I got when I asked around, he earned way above the average pay ceiling for people doing what he was doing at Sanyu FM.  He cannot find the same job anywhere else in Uganda offering him the same rate. His replacement possibly accepted less.

On the other hand, Sanyu FM might not find a replacement with the same or better talent, skill, and experience as Fat Boy. They might get a young person with talent but no skill or experience. Or they might settle for lower tier talent.

Meanwhile, just imagine what would happen if a radio station with a second tier morning drive show thinks beyond chopping employees and cutting salaries and hires Fat Boy instead. Does that single decision not have potential to push that radio station’s rating up?

Employers making decisions on employee terms should never underestimate the market value of experience and expertise. But employees should also know what smart employers deciding now whether to lay off an employee or cut their pay are considering.

Most employers are looking at their COVID-19 revised budgets and how much they are willing to pay for your contribution, how easily they can replace you, how much market value the business loses if you go, and how many troubles you save the company with your job output. President Yoweri Museveni’s lawyers handle one election petition every five or so years but he is not laying them off or cutting their pay. Smart move.


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